Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between  Panama Hats and Fedora Hats

Panama vs Fedora Hats: Which one to choose?

The panama hat is a well known stylish, but practical hat worn outdoors.  It is trendy for holiday makers and explorers.  The Fedora is a more fashion conscious version of the panama style and so the two hats could be thought of a the same type of hat.  They are  similar in style and design, but the essential difference between these two hats is undoubtedly the fabric used to make them.  Panama hats are made of straw while the fedora may be made of felt or other materials.  The panama hat is favored as a summer hat with its ability to keep the wearer cool.  It is a white or cream hat woven from palms found in Ecuador.  The Fedora may be worn as a fashion statement and an accessory to stylish suits and coats.  Although the two styles of hats look similar there are several essential differences that set them apart.


What are Panama Hats?

The panama hat, although the name may deceive you, did not originate from Panama.  This straw hat ,made from the woven palm leaves of the jipijapa plant, or the Toquilla palm, originates from Ecuador.  The name Panama hat was adopted when the hats were brought through the Panama canal by the early gold rush miners as they made their way into California.  It received further notoriety when Teddy Roosevelt wore a panama hat during his visit to the construction site of the Panama Canal.  Panama hats are a cool, comfortable hat to wear in the heat or as a fashion accessory to a summer holiday, barbecue or outdoor event.  The weaving of these hats was originally very skilled, but as they have become more popular they have been manufactured for export.  Hand made panamas are very expensive due to the time it takes to had craft a single hat.

Style Fashion and Historical Details about the Panama Hat

  • Manufacture – made out of straw from the Toquilla palm the panama hat is a woven, lightweight hat.  The tighter and the smaller the weave the more expensive the hat becomes.  Originally a part of the Ecuador. home industry this hat has become popular and sold widely as an outdoor accessory.
  • Iconic style – the hat is known for its high crown and brim that goes round the hat.  A brim of about three inches in width.  It has a bond or ribbon round the base of the crown and a taper in front.  It can hold water and is soft and flexible.  The panama can be rolled up and neatly packed in a suitcase.  The Montecristi Foundation has been established to  implement a grading system for the panama hat.
  • History – the panama hat has an interesting history and became popular as far back as the 1830’s during the Gold rush era in America.  Pioneers wanting to make their fortune rushed to California passing through the Panama and buying a suitable hat to keep off the hot sun while panning for gold.  The hat received further attention during the building of the Panama Canal when Teddy Roosevelt was seen wearing one during his visit to the Panama construction site.  This hat has now become synonymous with outdoor living and can be seen at barbecues, boating events and is often worn by holiday adventurers as they explore new places and enjoy the outdoors.  


What are Fedora Hats?

The fedora is a style of hat that could possibly be confused with the panama because of its shape.  However, it is made of very different materials and this makes it distinctive.  The fedora is usually made of felt and comes in different colors.  It is a fashion trend to wear with suits and coats for men although woman can enjoy making a statement wearing a fedora.  Always stylish, classy and a classic fashion accessory this hat has been worn by movie stars and royalty too.  The fedora has the same style as the panama  in its shape and brim and with a ribbon or band around the base of the crown.  It is not really the style of hat to be worn for outdoor sports or holiday wear, but definitely a trend setter for the fashion conscious man.

Style, fashion and Historical Details about the Fedora

  • Manufacture – the fedora is usually made from felt, but it can be made from leather and other suitable materials.  The shape of the hat follows the same principles as the panama with the well known crown, pinched front and  brim.  It is finished off with the classical ribbon or bond band round the base of the crown of the hat.
  • Iconic style – the fedora has become a very stylish accessory to the trend setting man as it compliments suits and coats and has a classical but trendy look.  The black fedora is probably one of the most popular styles and offers an urban look.  It has been made popular through movies such as Casablanca when Humphrey Bogart wore a fedora.  Harrison Ford in his role as Indiana Jones also wore a fedora giving the hat an heroic look through the daring antics of the character Indian Jones.  
  • History – the fedora made its first notable appearance in a play written for Sarah Bernhardt.  The play was called Fedora and the female lead wore a felt hat that became known as a fedora.  It was popular for women at that time especially woman’s rights activists.  In 1924 Prince Edward of Britain made the hat popular when he wore it with a suit.  Movies have featured stars wearing fedoras and even sports coaches have made the iconic hat popular.  A plaid or hounds tooth version of the hat was worn by Paul Bear Bryant, a college football coach.  In recent times the music industry has made the fedora popular and Justin Timberlake is known to have enjoyed wearing the fedora.


Differences between Panama and Fedora Hats

  1. Historical origin:  The panama hat was originally a practical straw hat that was handmade in Ecuador.  It is an outdoor, cool hat to wear and travels well.  Pioneers of the 1800’s enjoyed wearing this hat.  The fedora on the other hand began its popularity through drama and the theater.  It has become a sign of trendy fashion and worn with suits and smart coats.
  2. Materials : The panama hat is a straw hat.  It was originally woven by hand from the leaves of the toquilla palm.  The fedora has a variety of materials used to make its design.  Felt is the most popular but other fabrics can be used.  The most popular colors for the fedora are black, gray, dark brown and tan.
  3. Style:  These two renowned hats have the same style and look the same from a shape and size perspective.  The difference lies purely in the fabric they are made of and the color of the end product.
  4. Popularity: The panama and fedora are both popular but in different circumstances.  The panama is popular for its versatility as an outdoors hat as it is cool and light-weight and very practical.  The fedora is popular as a fashion trend setter.  It is smart and classy worn with a suit or with classic clothing.  Both men and women enjoy wearing these hats.
  5. Fashion trends: The fedora is probably more of a trend setter.  It enjoys being made of different fabrics and worn on different occasions.  The fedora appears as a dramatic accessory in movies and the music industry.  The panama sets trends as an outdoor adventuresome kind of hat.

Panama vs  Fedora Hats: Comparison Chart


Summary: Bullet Points Summarizing the Whole Article

  • Manufacturing – Panama hats were handcrafted and made of the natural product of toquilla palm leaves.  Supply and demand has resulted in more hats being mass produced.  Fedora hats are made of a variety of materials and manufactured rather than handmade.
  • Fashion statement – both styles of hat are fashionable but the fedora is more of a trend setter with its use of different fabrics and textures while the panama is made of straw.
  • Trends and popularity – Both styles of hat are popular but for different reasons.  The fedora would be more of a trend setter.  It makes its appearance on the musical entertainment scene, movie screens and is a fashion statement too.
  • Essential differences – the essential difference between these two hats is the fabric they are made of, along with the color options.  Panama hats make their statement in cream or white while the fedora has a wide array of colors and even patterns to make it a really fashionable hat.


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References :

[0]Image credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panama_hat#/media/File:Panama_hat.jpg

[1]Image credit: https://www.maxpixel.net/Wool-Felt-Headwear-Hats-Felt-Fedora-Hutkrempe-1163299

[2]Greco Jeremiah. Products we love – panama hat vs Fedora. www.news.orvis.com/products-we-love-panama-vs-fedora-whats-the difference?  17.03.2014 pub Orvis.com reviewed 08/05/2019.

[3]Ultrafino staff. Hats. Fedora-vs-panama-hats-differences. 08/09/2018. blog/ultrafino.com. Pub ultrafino. Reviewed 08/05/2019.

[4]Schneider R. Swen. Gentleman’s gazette – Fedora hat guide. 04/06/2018. www.gentlemansgazette.com. Pub Gentleman's Gazette. Reviewed 08/05/2019.

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